Editor’s Note: I’m sharing this for Fr. John.
Theodore of Tarsus was the eighth Archbishop of Canterbury.
As we have seen, Anglo-Saxon England was divided into the seven kingdoms of Kent, Essex, Sussex, Wessex, East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria at the time. The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons began around 597 when Augustine of Canterbury arrived in Kent. Over the course of the 7th century, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms gradually converted to Christianity due to the Roman mission from the south and Irish missionaries coming down from the north.
Christianity had barely gotten off the ground in most of England when Theodore of Tarsus arrived in 669 to assume the role of Archbishop of Canterbury. What’s interesting about Theodore is that he was a Greek Orthodox Christian born in Tarsus in what is now Turkey which is where St. Paul was from and how he ended up in Britain in charge of the early Anglo-Saxon church. In his lifetime, Tarsus was overrun by the Persian Sassanid Empire and later became a war zone between Byzantines and the Muslims which were sweeping out of Saudi Arabia.
From 537 to 752, the Papacy was dominated by the Byzantine emperor. There were five Syrian popes in the late 7th and early 8th centuries. Lots of Syrian Christians fled to Europe to escape from Islam. Theodore of Tarsus was one of these and he went to Constantinople to study and from there to Rome and from there when he was 68 years old to Britain where he presided over a revival of Latin culture and introduced Greek to the Anglo-Saxons.
The Codex Amiatinus is the oldest surviving complete Latin version of the Bible. It was produced by monks at the Venerable Bede’s monastery in Jarrow and was taken to Italy as a gift for Pope Gregory II in 716. In less than a century, the Anglo-Saxons went from illiteracy to producing some of the finest scholars in Europe of the 8th century